Meteo’kar: Champion of Space II

From the moment he witnessed “Crippling” Ed Diction throw Coconut Swallows into an on-coming car outside Classy Lou’s in Fontana, John always wanted to be a pro wrestler.

One morning, thirty-seven years earlier, Johnny’s Uncle Ronnie decided they would take a little detour to a stripmall rather than to Johnny’s school. When Johnny asked if they were here for a round of bowling or pool supplies, Ronnie laughed and laughed and walked inside Classy Lou’s without another word. And while Johnny appreciated Ronnie leaving the radio on, he still couldn’t help but be a little disappointed that they weren’t here for a new pool skimmer.

Fifteen minutes later, sometime during Steve Perry’s repeated insistence that he is, in fact, still someone’s Steve Perry, Uncle Ronnie stepped back out of Classy Lou’s. At least in the sense that Mr. Diction threw Ronnie by the mustache out the door and onto the asphalt. And as he witnessed some sort of criminal act in progress, Johnny noticed Mr. Diction was a rather large man capable of hurting a man much, much smaller, fatter, and drunker than him with great ease and immense pleasure.

Sometime around his ninth birthday, Johnny thought to ask his mother if she’d heard from Uncle Ronnie recently.

“Who the shit is Uncle Ronnie?” she replied in that way when one really, really wants to know who the absolute shit is Uncle Ronnie.

And now as he stood before the holographic projection of a trio of teeny-headed, large-bellied men in oversized robes, somewhere in the middle of a large arena filled to capacity with a live crowd of thousands and trillions watching illegal streams on the space-internet, John wondered why he was thinking about the man his father allowed to sleep in their driveway on alternative Tuesday and Thursday nights for the better part of two years.

“Who the Hell do you think you are?” the teeny-headed, large-bellied man on the left gurgled.

“I think there’s been some sort of mistake,” John said.

“You’re damn right,” the teeny-headed, large-bellied man on the right jowled, banging his fist on a table that wasn’t there, yet somehow made a noise anyway. “You’ve interfered with forces beyond your comprehension.”

The third teeny-headed, large-bellied man said nothing and fiddled with something in his hands as the other two looked on, waiting.

“Yeah. Okay,” the left one eventually said. “Look. We appreciate our independent contractors taking the initiative and blah-blah-blah, we simply can’t have someone succeeding on their own merits.”

“What Book’urr means,” the right one interjected, “is that, while we love – while the fans–“

The arena roared to life, then immediately silenced.

“What the Hell?” John asked of no one, but, really, would have loved for anyone to reply with even a guess.

The right one continued as if he hadn’t just been interrupted by thousands of Flimflammians and Goozles eerily precise cheering, “love you – we simply can’t afford to abandon our plans now.”

“Plans?” John asked, this time specifically of the very strange men saying very strange things in this very strange place. 

“He knows of the plans!” Book’urr exclaimed, turning to the teeny-headed, large-bellied man on John’s right, but to his left. “Pen-sil, he knows of the plans!”

“Who are you?” Pen-sil demanded.

“Did Phil send you?” Book’urr added, fairly certain it was, in fact, Phil, that sonnovabitch.

“That asshole knows he can’t run shows here.”

“I don’t know who Phil is,” John assured them.

“Well,” Book’urr said, “who the Hell are you then?”

John considered this. “Nobody.”

Pen-cil scoffed. “You dare play games now, Boy?”

“Seriously,” John insisted. “I’m just – just some mediocre nobody who won the World Championship of freakin’ Fountain Valley.”

“Meteo’kar!” Pen-cil bellowed.

“Wait. Who?”

“I don’t care if you are your World’s Champion–“

“Of Fountain Valley,” John repeated. “I feel like it’s very important right now that I emphasize that, again, I am world champion of Fountain Valley – a city known for a bowling alley, a park, and existing. In that order.”

Pen-cil continued as if John hadn’t said a word, “insist on unraveling our handwork willy-nilly–“

“I don’t. Really, I don’t,” John interrupted, yet again. “Also, did you just say, ‘willy-nilly’?”

“Enough!” Book’urr drools. “Nobody uses such language with the Promoters of the Universe!”

Pen-Cil turned to the middle teeny-headed, large-bellied man. “What say you, General Manager?”

The middle teeny-headed, large-bellied man looked up from whatever was more important than whatever this is. “For your transgression, you are to compete one-on-one with,” he dramatically paused, “the Overseller!”

The crowd roared. A man squealed with a bit too much delight. And John stood there even more confused than before, and wishing he’d canceled on Pete at the last minute like he had kinda, sorta wanted to.

“Beseech me, Contestant!” General Manager smiled.

To be continued…

Meteo’kar: Champion of Space

At twelve thirty-five one very early Sunday morning, in a Legion hall somewhere in Fountain Valley, John Joblonski defeated Tony “Two Thumbs” Pulcini via pin-fall in a Trailer Park Trash match for the World’s Championship.

Several moments earlier, somewhere on Earth’s moon, Kur’tahn J’kar defeated Buzz Aldrin via decapitation for the Moon’s Championship.

In a move that was rather obvious to the handful of viewers who could still be assed to tune-in to Sol Championship Wrestling every week, yet completely unexpected by the forty-something man in stretchy pants, Kur’tahn immediately challenged John for what was wrongly assumed to be the actual championship of the world.

Now. This is significant for approximately two reasons.

The first reason, of course, is that, at this point in history, Betty White was Earth’s reigning champion, having defeated Queen Elizabeth II sometime during The Golden Girls’ second season. And as a result of this unbelievably stupid move by Kur’tahn, what we now know as the Great Intergalactic Civil War began.

The other reason is that Kur’tahn, like much of the rest of the galaxy, incorrectly assumed that Earth was the least valuable title on SCW programming. And outside of a few notable runs by the likes of Roddy Piper, Bea Authur, and Me’am Auh’tauk of Moronika, an otherwise long-forgotten nomadic tribe whose line ended somewhere in what is now North America, it’s not too difficult to see why. For as entertaining as White’s run has been, she’s hardly been in a proper storyline for us to give a shit, has she? And why was Oscar Wilde never given a proper run, hm?

But had Kur’tahn or anyone else watched this godforsaken show, like real fans, they would know the reason why Earth’s two championships were originally relegated only to humanity: humanity’s innate genetic ability.

Ironically enough, it should be noted that much of humanity squanders this rare gift of the cosmos writing silly stories and scribbling even sillier pictures of their genitals. And only on rare occasions do the unaware and unsanctioned even make it beyond dark matches.

The second most recent of such encounters, at the time, involved the aforementioned Kur’tahn J’kar and Mr. Aldrin, deceased.

The most recent – and far from the last – involved a man who couldn’t quite as easily be described as an elderly man dead asleep in his bed before being dead on the moon. And to make the whole fiasco even more of a cosmic-level example of utterly insipid booking, John simply assumed Kur’tahn to be yet another drunken mark itching to be a part of the show. So after Kur’tahn struck John, assuming this human to easily fall like the rest, John did what he was always taught to do in these sorts of situations – he punched the other guy’s head clean off.

Now. John only intended to remove Kur’tahn’s head, more or less, in a metaphorical sense. Kur’tahn, however, most definitely intended it in a literal one. So imagine their surprise when the results came out all backwards. As Kur’tahn’s mighty claw struck John’s impressively muscled for his age and level of dedication chest, it shattered like glass on something hard, I suppose. And John, powered by the raw energy of the fifty-two or so mostly paying audience members in attendance, literally severed Kur’tahn’s head from the rest of his body with a single punch.

John looked on at the bloody devastation left in his wake and on his hands, and the children began to cry. A man in the back laughed for a moment, then stopped. And someone briefly considered calling the cops, but figured if it wasn’t part of the show, someone would have said something.

A flash of light cut through the hall, blinding the fifty-two in attendance, the dozen at home, and Doug, the moderator of the Epic Wrestling Entertainment livestream. And when their sight returned, John was gone.

To be continued…

The Heart of a Hero

The sky opened, and Hell followed.

Beneath this, it was Tuesday. And to be perfectly honest, it was a rather pleasant one until it wasn’t. Sure, there was quite a bit of suffering carrying on in many parts of the world, including right around the corner from where it all ultimately ceased to be (Oh, the awful things people were doing to each other and their families in the privacy of their own homes – but the less said about this, the easier it is to focus on the fun parts of this horrific, if fictional sci-fi apocalyptic tale). But in some godforsaken shopping center in the sort of Californian city where people with far too much money buy overpriced things from people with far too little of either, the sun was warm, the wind was cool, but not too much, and existence wasn’t all that bad if you could afford to ignore it. In fact, Peter Protagonist managed to catch every red light on the way to work, causing him to be late yet again. Fortunately, Peter hated his job. Unfortunately, he arrived just in time to witness his girlfriend, Ann Plot-Device, having coffee with another man in the parking lot. At least, in the sense that they were currently engaged in some form of sexual intercourse in the backseat of a twenty-year old, mostly primer-colored Honda Civic.

Now. Before anyone thinks to cast judgment on the poor girl, it should be made very clear that Ms. Plot-Device, her extracurricular lover, and that hideous car were all instantaneously vaporized the moment someone falling from the aforementioned Hellhole in the Sky subsequently landed directly on top of – and, I suppose, through – all of this. So do temper your throbbing rage and flaccid demands for primal social justice. Because if nothing else, it’ll all prove rather meaningless in the grand scheme of the next five or so minutes.

That said. There was a bit of fire, a sort of explosion. All fantastically gratuitous, really. But as sexually stimulating as the creation of celestial impact craters and collateral damage may be, they also tend to be somewhat overstimulating for those standing a bit too close to fully appreciate such things. Yet for as bleeding about the head as he most concussedly was after being literally and painfully shock-waved several yards through the air, Peter’s metaphorically broken heart was grateful for the distraction.

“Are you okay?” someone eventually assed to shout in that way where one really wants to sound like they give a shit, but really don’t.

“I think they’re moving,” another added.

“Someone survived that?”

Peter’s vision mostly righted itself and he watched as the gathering crowd heroically tended to the needs of that helpless smoldering hole in the ground.

“Is anyone getting a signal?”

Peter dragged himself bleeding and internally bleeding to the smoldering hole, and saw what all this not-calling-me-an-ambulance business was all about: some clown in the bloodied, tattered remains of some kind of fancy Halloween costume was wriggling about and crying, “They’re coming! They’re coming! Good God, someone get me out of here, they’re coming!”

“Who?” Peter asked in that way one does when they want the other person to stop screaming the same thing over and over and finish their thought. “Who’s coming?”

“Them!” the clown in the Halloween costume replied, lifting and pointing with his broken, mushy stub at an alien armada more or less done gathering on this side of the Hellhole in the sky.

“Alien invaders!”

“They’re going to kill us all!”

“It’s the end of the world!”

“Everyone duck and cover!”

But before Peter could follow the rest to the nearest sturdy doorway, desk, or table, the clown in the Halloween costume spoke again. “Sorry. What was that?” Peter replied.

“I said, the Libertitans aren’t here to kill you.”

“Then why are they here?”

“To conquer you, to steal your world, strip mine it, and enslave your people in soul crushing and backbreaking low-paying jobs as they profit off your perpetual misery and labor.”

“”Uh-huh,” Peter blinked.

“I think I’m a bit too far gone now,” the clown in the Halloween costume coughed and spat into his helmet, the blood and viscera staining the visor and making Peter gag a bit. “Only you can stop them now.”

But before Peter could laugh at such a ridiculous statement, the clown in the Halloween costume pulled open their chest cavity with far too much ease, revealing a beautiful gemstone where their heart should have been.

“Ew,” Peter cringed.

“My name is Heckles,” the clown coughed and spat again. “I was just a party clown from Anaheim. Until I got this.”

“What is it?”

“A piece of The Black Star.”

“Okay,” Peter blinked again.

“When you take this, it will grant you power beyond imagination.”

“But?”

“But what?”

“What’s the catch, the gimmick?”

The clown sighed. “The Black Star will replace your heart and consume your life force until you either die in battle or you burn out like a battery.”

“Why would I ever agree to something so ridiculous?”

“Because this is your chance to become a hero and save the world!”

“Yeah, but I don’t see an upside for me.”

“Are you shitting me? There’s an alien armada directly above us, and all you can think about is how this situation can benefit you personally?”

“Now. See? That’s not fair. You’re the one that came crashing down atop my cheating girlfriend and wrecked my car. And now here you are, a literal clown in some spandex getup…”

“Supersuit.”

“Thank you,” Peter said, then continued. “A literal clown in some spandex supersuit insisting I give up any semblance of autonomy for the sake of saving a world that has proven time and again to not give a super-shit about me, themselves, or much of anything else, really, even when repeatedly faced with one self-inflicted global crisis after the other. Quite frankly, we could use a change in management around here.”

“Bit cynical, don’t you think?”

“Maybe. But we’re not only talking about choosing between one form of lifelong, cosmic indentured servitude over the other. We’re talking about unfair expectations of selfless self-sacrifice from others when, really, you’re coercing someone to act on pure emotion – in this case, fear – without all the facts.”

“That’s fair.”

“And even worse, you’re handing over the equivalent of a doomsday weapon to a random stranger on the street. Do you go around handing out guns and bombs at the local park on weekends? What makes you think I’m not only emotionally mature enough to wield such power without proper training, but to also do so without any selfish inclination to use such a weapon to force my own will on others.”

“I… I didn’t think about that.”

“Of course not. You didn’t think about this at all did you. I suppose you’ve been galvanting all about the multiverse, having one detached adventure after the next, oblivious of any consequences for swooping in and utterly upsetting the natural order of any particular corner of reality, and then being so utterly incompetent as to ensure that your troubles followed you home, where we are incapable – militarily, psychologically – of comprehending such threats, let alone actually fighting with such things.”

But before the clown in the Halloween spandex supersuit could fully process the fault in his logic and the string of mistakes that brought him here, just a few short miles away from where he had wasted much of his previous life on hard drugs, cheap liquor, and one open mic and dating app after the other, the alien armada unleashed their veggie-ray across the globe. And as the collective consciousness of humanity was locally deleted, but backed up to a server somewhere on the other side of Titan, Peter took solace in the fact that, at the very end, he had finally stood up for himself. And that had to count for something, if only because he and all of humanity were being remotely lobotomized by alien invaders from beyond the moon.

Orientation

“And that, my sweet, supple henchmen–” Girwin half-assedly lilted, and was promptly interrupted mid-spittle by the grotesque, phlegm-clogged bleating of one of the newly hired sacrificial lambs in his morning tour group.

It was sometime before lunch next Tuesday in the sunlit foyer of a giant skull carved from the lone mountain on a small island in the Pacific. Girwin was, and still is (as of this writing), often described by his coworkers, friends, family, and favorite, yet rather gossipy bartender as a, and we’re quoting here, “middle-aged schlub of a middle-manager pissing away every precious moment of his life working in human resources for a soulless, yet respectably profitable criminal organization.” The dozen or so murmuring chimps in ill-fitting radiation suits in front of him were preoccupied with complaints about being forced to wear a mask indoors (seemingly in spite of all the radiation), insisting radiation was just a myth, and idly scrolling through their respective social media feeds. Yet none of them noticed that the aforementioned rude interruption was little more than a quick cover up for what proved to be an otherwise silent, if now wholly trapped bit of fart in someone’s suit. In fact, most everyone but Girwin and that damned soul now stewing in their own gasses ignored this entirely. Girwin, however, in all his insecure whatever-the-opposite-of-glory-is, mistook this as a rude but helpful reminder of a new interoffice memo regarding inclusion. He couldn’t be assed to read the damned thing, of course. But he had heard some of the younger employees discussing something about pronouns, and thus thought it best to correct himself before someone thought to file a complaint and he’d be forced to investigate himself again. And while such a thing normally wouldn’t be much of a problem at all, Girwin had planned to duck out a bit early to read to strippers on his way to volunteer at the animal euthanatorium, so he hoped to avoid any extra paperwork that afternoon. But such is life. And as such, it continues even after a rude, brief, yet complete misunderstanding.

“My apologies,” Girwin replied, then started over from the beginning. “And that, my succulent, savory, hench-persons,” he self-corrected, pausing only long enough to make everyone feel every bit as uncomfortable as he had hoped, and then continued, “concludes our tour. I hope you found today’s experiences not only enlightening, but informative, as I would hate to have to kill any of you before your ninety-day review. But more importantly, I want to be the first to welcome you to the E.V.I.L. family!”

As deafening uninterest settled in, Girwin fluffed up his own round of flaccid applause in a failed attempt to conclude this complete waste of his time without another interruption.

“Excuse me, Girwin?” one of the sheep baa’d, raising one of its gloved hands.

Girwin sighed in that way where one very much wants someone else to know just how pissed-offingly annoyed they are with them, but also neither wishes to appear rude nor professional. “Yes, Jeff?”

“It’s pronounced, ‘Jeff.'”

“What did I say?”

Jeff considered this, and shrugged. “I forget.”

“Well, Whoever-You-Are,” Girwin said, pleased with his ability to only-barely resist his sudden urge to casually demonstrate the efficacy of the company-provided emergency disintegrator ray strapped to his hip. “Would you like to get to your question before I shoot you dead in front of all your soon-to-be former colleagues?

“Yes, I think I’d like that,” Jeff replied, immediately followed by the absence of both thought and sound.

Girwin looked on at this artistic display of intellectual failings with a delightfully fruity cocktail of confusion, contempt, and subconscious positioning of his hand in such a way that it was, more or less, now touching and/or holding the aforementioned company-provided emergency disintegrator ray. “Care to give us a hint, then?”

“Oh, right,” Jeff chuckled in that uniquely stupid way that universally translates to, “I’m an insufferable idiot.” “It’s about the company mission statement.”

“And what of it?”

Jeff pouted. “I thought you were going to guess.” He fumbled about for a moment, and then pulled out his mangled, dog-eared copy of the E.V.I.L. employee handbook from his ill-fitting radiation suit, and turned to a page he marked with a brightly colored bit of paper and ink. “Well,” he said, skipping over the bits in blue and reading the bits in pink, “it says right here, ‘E.V.I.L. seeks one goal, and one goal only: world domination.'”

Girwin looked on at Jeff as if the blithering bookreader were the stupidest person he had ever met, which was saying a lot given Girwin’s already low and highly vocal opinion of Brennifer in accounting. “You’re not one of those soft, tender-loined liberals, are you, Jeff?”

“No-no-no,” Jeff laughed yet again in that face-punching way he had about him, stupidly unaware of the rather erotic way Girwin’s fingers traced over the slick chrome casing of his company-provided emergency disintegrator ray. “I’m a real cold-hearted son-of-a-bitch, Sir.”

“Such a shame I have to kill you after this.”

Jeff smiled and nodded. “Agreed. But, ‘world domination’ does seem a bit vague and open-ended.”

“Is that right?”

“Yes. Sounds like a hassle, really.”

Maybe it was lightning in a bottle, a sudden stroke of significant, deep introspective insight into the illicit doings and beings of arguably the evilest corporation owned and operated by the evilest owners not involved with the designing and manufacturing of suspect electric vehicles. Maybe it was the marijuana Girwin had smoked in the bathroom before the start of that morning’s tour. Or maybe it was the way the filtration unit on the ill-fitting radiation suits tended to muffle the wearer’s voice. Whatever the reason, Girwin and the rest of his sheep seized on Jeff with all the dumbfounded, jaw-slacking attention usually reserved for adolescent boys reading their first laughably ham-fisted description of female breasts in a clunky horror novel. “What do you mean?”

“Well,” Jeff started, slipping a gloved hand and arm right up into his still-open, still ill-fitting radiation suit, and picking his nose. “If Adjunct Professor Conniption already has the technology to access alternate realities and create parallel worlds, why doesn’t he just, I dunno, go to some perfect world of his own making instead of resigning himself to a life of micromanagement?”

The others considered this for a moment in loud, distorted whispers, but Girwin decided he wasn’t comfortable questioning his deep-seeded, self-imposed beliefs. “You know what?,” he said. “To Hell with this.” And then he casually shot Jeff with his company-provided emergency disintegrator ray.

The group looked on at Jeff’s disintegrated cremains sizzling and smoking with all the life of a sizzling, smoking pile of ash, and shuffled nervously in their ill-fitting, now urine-soaked radiation suit.

Girwin returned the company-provided emergency disintegrator ray to its place on his hip. “Are there any other questions?”